Cummings, Sanders reopen 2014 probe into generic drug price fixing

Elijah Cummings
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md, (pictured) has teamed up again with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to reopen a 2014 probe into alleged generic drug price-fixing. (AFGE/CC BY 2.0)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, reopened a 2014 probe into whether generic drug manufacturers colluded to raise drug prices.

The two lawmakers, who have often collaborated on legislation to tackle high drug prices, are calling on Mylan, Heritage and Teva to turn over documents originally requested back in 2014 but were stonewalled. Sanders and Cummings initiated the probe in 2014 in 14 generic drug companies over massive spikes of up to 8,000% for generic doxycycline hyclate.

Heritage, Teva and Mylan did not return documents per the lawmakers’ requests back in 2014.

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“Not only did your company’s obstruction undermine our investigation, but it may have caused further harm to patients and healthcare providers by delaying the discovery of evidence about the companies’ price-fixing,” Sanders and Cummings wrote in the letter to Teva. “Furthermore, obstructing or evading a Congressional investigation, including withholding or concealing information, is a violation of federal law.”

The demand issued on Tuesday comes as 44 states sued Teva, Mylan and 18 other generic companies back in May for fixing the prices of more than 100 generic drugs. While Heritage was not part of the suit, the complaint claims that it was a major participant in the alleged scheme, according to the lawmakers.

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The letters to each company call for them to turn over any documents on the price of two generics from 2012 through 2018. Cummings and Sanders also want any expenses related to the sales of these drugs, including dollars spent on marketing and manufacturing, and are asking the companies to disclose executives who have been responsible for setting the price of drugs during the same time period.

Mylan responded that it did not obstruct the lawmakers' investigation back in 2014. 

"In connection with related ongoing investigations, Mylan has provided extensive documentation to investigating authorities and will continue to cooperate," the company said in a statement. 

Mylan added that outside counsel found no evidence of price-fixing allegations related to the states' lawsuit. 

"We are prepared to make our case in a court of law," it said.

Heritage said that it previously cooperated with and responded to the 2014 inquiry on two separate occasions. The responses said that the company did not sell or market doxycycline hyclate. 

Teva did not return a request for comment as of press time.

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This is the latest probe by Cummings, who as chairman of the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to 12 drug companies back in January for information on alleged price-fixing for an assortment of brand and generic drugs. The probe sought information on how the companies set prices alongside any corporate strategies to preserve market share.

Cummings and Sanders have also sponsored legislation over the past several years to tackle high prices, most notably failed legislation in the last Congress to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices.  

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